Fichardt Focused On Winning

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Sunshine TourJOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Darren Fichardt will head to the Woodhill Country Club for the $216,900 Telkom PGA Championship armed with the advice on winning he received from Mark McNulty and more confident than ever of winning the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
 
The third of South African golf's three 'majors' - the other two being the South African Airways Open and the Nashua Masters - will be played at the affluent Pretoria golf estate from February 12-15.
 
Fichardt lines up in a field including past PGA champions Gavan Levenson, Michiel Bothma, Roger Wessels, Chris Williams and Sven Struver.
 
After winning the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Sun City last week, the Pretoria professional confirmed his place in the Telkom PGA Championship with the words, 'I'm going to try and win the Order of Merit - that's my first goal'.
 
And Fichardt will no doubt be using the same advice given to him by McNulty and which he used to win at Sun City last week when he tees it up at Woodhill.
 
The advice came shortly after McNulty had beaten Fichardt the 2002 Vodacom Players Championship at Royal Cape Golf Club. Fichardt and McNulty were tied for the lead with seven holes to come in that event, but over-exuberance cost Fichardt the title on that occasion.
 
'Mark told me afterwards just to be more patient in situations like that and not force things,' Fichardt said. 'I was a bit upset when he first told me that because he'd just whipped me. But I never stopped thinking about it. I used his advice when I won the Qatar Masters in March last year, and again in the final round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am. It's just a case of keeping the ball in play and waiting for your opponent to make the mistakes.'
 
Fichardt has claimed the Sunshine Tour money list title once before in the 1999/2000 season, and his chances of a repeat this summer are very good. He is currently second on the money list, roughly R495 000 behind current leader Trevor Immelman following the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
 
But with Immelman not playing more than two tournaments on the Sunshine Tour due to his commitments on the European Tour and thereby ruling him out of the running for not having played the minimum of four events, Fichardt - who has committed to the Sunshine Tour for the entire summer - could surpass him in the number one spot.
 
Fichardt's best finish in the Telkom PGA Championship in recent years was eighth in 2001. But he comes into this year's tournament entirely different player shaped by regular competition against the world's best on the European Tour, where he has won twice, the last being the Qatar Masters in March 2003.
 
Fichardt also has plans of taking on the US PGA Tour in the near future.
'That's my second goal this year, to try to get into the States. I feel the US Tour suits me better than the European Tour. I have a high ball flight and I'm not much of a rain and wind player.'
 
A win in the Telkom PGA Championship would also crystallize his status as one of South African golf's young stars.